Newbies getting jobs...

Subject: Newbies getting jobs...
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 1998 09:26:29 -0400

I've been seeing a small group of messages moving through lately about "How
do I get work in this profession?" I think we need a FAQ just for this.
Perhaps it's just the time of year, when wage slaves are thinking of getting
out and about with the sunshine and college seniors are preparing to

Allow me to state here what my position is with regard to hiring, so that
all the newbies can see my opinion and veterans can disagree.

First, resumes are bogus. Or as close as makes no odds. A resume is like
your front door; you have to have one, but don't put too much faith in its
effectiveness. Getting a job is hard work; broadcasting resumes is laziness.
Have one for distribution, but do it on good white stock and then stick it
in an envelope for when it's asked for.

Second, network. Then do it some more. Then lots more. There's no such thing
as too much. As Harvey McKay says, dig your well before you're thirsty. But
I know in advance that most people won't heed this advice. They graduate,
get laid off, or are otherwise inconvenienced, THEN begin to tentatively
network. We used to have a poor little fellow intermittently attending our
local STC chapter meetings whenever he ran out of work. He wasn't even a
member and nobody took him seriously. On the other hand, we've had newbies
attend a half-dozen meetings and get hired despite their rawness because
they showed a willingness to be professional and to stick it out.

For college students, that means cutting loose some time for STC meetings.
Get to know your future employers. Don't start attending only in May.

Networking means to learn people's names, get their cards, and contact them.
Take them to lunch. Find out what they want in new writers. Visit their
offices. Brazenly ask for advice. Most STC'ers I know are brimming with it.
We all came in from somewhere else. Look at this list as an example. Shoot,
ask if you can work on their equipment at night, learning the tools you
think you'll need. Ask. Get a Rolodex together with the names of everybody
in your area who might be hiring now or in the future.

Third, find out what employers want BEFORE you graduate or leave your
current job. Talk to them directly. Talk to headhunters about what they're
seeing for requirements. Ask outright "If I get this or that, would you hire
me?" Ask what their priorities are in hiring...some value personality more
than skills. We're like that Simply Written; we can teach tools, but we
can't teach integrity or tenacity.

Enthusiasm, planning, and personality will get you a long way with most
hiring managers, especially if you have a personal relationship. Entering
our profession isn't as simple as just getting a job in it. But it has some
of the most helpful people I've ever known. It's a mystery to me why more
aspirants don't make use of the enormously deep well of goodwill that's in
their backyard. Make contacts and forge relationships. It takes a lot of
work, but getting into a profession or a job IS a job.

There. Any comments?

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Creators of the Clustar Method for task-based documentation

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